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11 jun

How to Avoid Sweepstakes Scams

By: Sync Marketing | In: Best Practices

For marketers, running a sweepstakes is an easy way to gather information about potential consumers. It’s also an effective way to reward current consumers for loyalty to their brand by offering a chance to win a fun prize. Unfortunately, there are people out there who are in the business of running scam promotions. So we’re here today to help you know how to avoid sweepstakes scams. Here is recent CBS News story outlining how Americans were bamboozled out of over $100 Million dollars last year.

Look for the official rules of the sweepstakes

When entering a sweepstakes, be sure to look for the official rules that clearly outlines the parameters of the promotion. Here’s what you are looking for: Sponsor’s name, eligibility, run dates, method of entry and prize details. If you don’t see the official rules listed, don’t give your information.

Don’t enter personal information

Upon entering, a legitimate sweepstakes should only ask you to provide basic information. This would include as your name, email address and sometimes phone number or zip code. If they are asking for your social security number, passport number, or driver’s license information, beware.

If you are a winner, never send money

There will never be an instance where you should be expected to pay for any type of handling fee or service charges to receive your prize. If a prize is valued over $600 you will be asked to provide a W9 form as the prize value won will be reported to the IRS and you will receive a 1099 in the January following the year you won your prize. Also, never give your banking information or credit card numbers. This will never be required for claiming a legitimate prize.

Examine the winner notification email for clues

If you receive an email from a company using a free email service such as Hotmail.com or Gmail.com, it’s quite possible it’s not a legitimate notification. Most companies running a sweepstakes will notify you from their company or their administrator’s company email addresses. Whenever Sync Marketing notifies a winner, we refer potential winners to visit the sweepstakes website where they can view the official rules to see that Sync Marketing is listed as the Administrator. It’s important to do your research.

Social Media has sweepstakes scams too

They are hard to spot, but they do exist. Scammers will set up fake Facebook and Twitter accounts with the hopes of getting you to give up your personal information. They’ve also gone so far as to impersonate Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg. The fake Zuckerberg account sends a message through Facebook Messenger congratulating you that you’ve won the Facebook Lottery. If you click the bait, you find that they will ask you to send money to claim your prize. As mentioned above, no legitimate company will ask you for money to claim your prize. Here’s a recent story on NBC News offering additional tips on how to spot social media sweepstakes scams.

Now that we’ve given you some tips on how to avoid sweepstakes scams, hopefully you will feel comfortable to enter the ones that are legit. There are thousands of legitimate companies running sweepstakes each year offering amazing prizes for the taking. You just need to make sure you protect yourself and be smart. Not quite sold? Here’s some additional information from the Federal Trade Commission. For any additional questions regarding how to avoid sweepstakes scams or sweepstakes in general, please contact us directly.

How to Avoid Sweepstakes Scams


17 jun

Sweepstakes vs. Contests; What Produces the Best ROI?

By: Sync Marketing | In: Best Practices, Contests, Sweepstakes

ROI is definitely a major consideration when running sweepstakes vs. contests… but did you know that the majority of people don’t know the difference between sweepstakes vs. contests and think that the words are interchangeable. In most cases, companies are looking to run a “sweepstakes,” but are referring to it as a “contest.” Here is a good reference to differentiate between the two. Below I will take it a step further and discuss Sweepstakes vs. Contests: What produces the Best ROI?

So for those who are not familiar with the acronym, ROI is Return On Investment, which is a major factor when running any type of marketing campaign. Although I would love to be able to tell you which of the two would give you the best ROI, there are a lot of factors to consider. For arguments sake, let’s treat this as a boxing match, the main event; Sweepstakes vs. Contests.

In this corner, Sweepstakes. Here are the stats:

  • Obtain large quantities of entries; Entering a sweepstakes is typically easy breezy, so that’s why the entry count is typically higher than with a contest.
  • Inexpensively promote your product or service; You can run sweepstakes with very little investment, but make sure that your budget covers the legal components as well as the design. Here is a good reference to the importance of legal guidance on a sweepstakes. Even more affordable sweepstakes options can be found in the form of a social media sweepstakes or turnkey sweepstakes.
  • Collect consumer data; A sweepstakes is a great vehicle to collect basic consumer data, preferences, and email opt-ins, but be careful, the more information you require from an entrant, the greater the chance of losing them before entry.

Here are a few tips to improve your ROI when running an online sweepstakes: http://www.syncmarketing.net/ask-sync-marketing-maximize-roi-running-online-sweepstakes/

In this corner, Contests. Here are the stats:

  • Gain quality entries vs. quantity; People who enter contests are asked to take an extra step vs. entering a sweepstakes so you are getting people who are really interested in your product and/or the prize you are offering.
  • Gather user-generated content; Your contest can require people to upload a photo which shows them enjoying your product. You can’t ask for better promotion than organic promotion.
  • Reach people who are interested in your company; When a contest entrant opt-ins in to receive emails, you typically have a better email open rate than by someone who provided their email address thorough a sweepstakes.
  • Create PR Buzz; Contests seem to excite the media a bit more than a basic sweepstakes because it’s a challenge and people love a good challenge.

Here are a few tips on running a successful contest: http://www.syncmarketing.net/ask-sync-marketing-questions-running-successful-contest/#.V2L0MI-cHyQ

In the end, you need to be your own “referee” when deciding on running sweepstakes vs. contests. They really are in different weight classes so to speak. Ultimately your goals (and budget) will determine which one you run and a sweepstakes administrator can help you decide. The results will show if your ROI was strong for you. For any questions, contact Sync Marketing at 323-596-7962.

Sweepstakes vs. Contests


22 apr

Reasons to Hire a Sweepstakes Agency for Your Next Campaign

By: Jennifer French | In: Best Practices, Contests, Legal and Prize Fulfillment, Marketing, Sweepstakes

If you’ve never run a sweepstakes or contest before and you are considering adding one to your marketing plans in the near future, it is important that you do your homework on the subject before you begin the process.  There are many things to first identify when planning a sweepstakes. Budget, timing, target audience, goals, etc., (see tips for running a successful sweepstakes), are just a few. You will also need to figure out how the overall process works, and for that, we recommend working with an agency that specializes specifically in sweepstakes and contests.  Here are a few important reasons why you should hire a sweepstakes agency for your next campaign.

Strategy

With anything, you need to start with a plan. Consulting an agency to help you determine how to build the best promotion to meet your goals, all while staying within your budget, is a great place to begin. With these goals in mind, a sweepstakes agency can present a plan for the overall concept of the campaign and determine the best platform to showcase your promotion. Some of these types of campaigns could include; social media, sweepstakes microsite, or an iFrame on your company’s website. They can also brainstorm creative and cutting edge concepts offering you a one-of-a-kind sweepstakes.

Management

There are a lot of moving parts to think about when running an online sweepstakes. Working with an agency who has experience with the process who can take on the management of the promotion is imperative for busy marketing teams.  Not only do they have the expertise, but they are dedicated to the project and will make sure that it is running successfully so that you can focus on other tasks at hand.

Design

A lot of companies have internal creative teams, but do not have teams that specialize specifically in sweepstakes creative. It’s imperative to know how best to design a mobile-optimized sweepstakes. Understanding this ensures that the functionality and flow works from a consumer standpoint. In addition, when you hire a sweepstakes agency, they will be able to design all of the supporting creative such as web banners, in-store POP and social media.  It’s a one stop shop for your promotion, which will save you time and money in the long run.

Programming

In your research you may have come across a sweepstakes app that can build a basic entry form and capture online entries at a low cost.  If that is your only goal, then this could be a valid option for you. If you want to have any customization to your promotion, you will need to hire a sweepstakes agency for programming.  An agency’s programming team can add an instant win component, award extra entries for completing tasks such as sharing on social media, or even collect photo and video uploads.  The sky’s the limit on the possibilities.  They are also able to collect and deliver email and mobile opt-ins. This is typically a big reason companies run sweepstakes. Lastly, if budget is an issue, reach out to us about Turnkey Sweepstakes by Sync Marketing.

Legal Compliance

This is probably one of the most important reasons to consult a sweepstakes agency.  Most companies have in house legal counsel that has a general background in the field of their company’s specialty (i.e. retail, manufacturing, automotive, etc.). With a sweepstakes agency, the legal team specializes in promotion law and stays up-to-date on all of the changes in the field.  If you hire a sweepstakes agency, not only will they create the necessary official rules, affidavits of eligibility and release forms for you, but they will review all of your supporting marketing materials to ensure legal compliance.  Here’s a recent article which outlines Sync Marketing’s legal services.

Prize Procurement and Fulfillment

Does your marketing team have time to select, notify and verify all of the sweepstakes winners?  And after that is complete, do they have time to arrange winner travel, ship out prizing, and/or file tax documentation to the IRS?  If the answer is no, then you should definitely hire a sweepstakes agency.  Not only will they provide these types of services, they will also make sure that all of this is done in compliance with the official rules.  Speaking of prizing, here is an informative article on types of prizing you should consider for a sweepstakes.

Analytics and Reporting

How do you know if your sweepstakes was a success?  The analytics. When you use the services of a sweepstakes agency, they will work with you before the campaign begins to identify the types of metrics you are looking to receive. In addition these metrics can be provided as often as necessary or on a 24/7 password protected website. Without metrics, you cannot clearly determine your ROI.

Running an online sweepstakes is a cost effective way to reach and reward your consumers and promote your company and brand. As we have outlined here, without the proper guidance, mistakes can be made along the way.  We hope the information provided today gave you some better insight on why you should hire a sweepstakes agency for your next campaign. While you’re at it, consider reaching out to Sync Marketing for your next sweepstakes campaign.  Contact us today! Jennifer@syncmarketing.net or 323-596-7962.

Hire a Sweepstakes Agency like Sync Marketing for your next campaign.

 


31 may

Sweepstakes and Contests: Handle Internally or Hire a Sweepstakes Administrator?

By: Sync Marketing | In: Best Practices, Contests, Legal and Prize Fulfillment, Marketing, User Generated Content

We may be a bit biased when it comes to whether or not you should handle a sweepstakes internally or hire an administrator, but we hope the following tips will lead you in the right direction. Whether you’re a marketing agency or an international corporation, these questions will help you determine if you’re equipped to handle a sweepstakes or contest, or if you need to call the experts.

1. Does your in-house legal counsel specialize in promotion law?

Promotion law is very specific. Just recently, Facebook changed its policy to no longer allow entrants to share on Facebook that they’ve entered a sweepstakes or contest in order to earn extra entries. Using a legal team who specializes in promotion law will allow you to stay up to speed on these types of changes so that you know you’re running legally-compliant promotions. You can read more about the policy change here.

2. Does your creative team know how to design mobile-optimized websites?

These days, a lot of consumers enter sweepstakes through their mobile devices and it’s important that your site is mobile optimized to provide the best consumer experience. More importantly, you must have a creative team that understands how to design for a mobile optimized site to ensure your site will run smoothly. It’s also important to know the difference between mobile-friendly, mobile-optimized and responsive sites, and determine which one is best to use for your sweepstakes or contests…but that’s for another post. 🙂

3. Does your ideation team know the difference between a sweepstakes and a contest?

It is not only imperative to know the difference between a sweepstakes, but it’s also important to know which one to run to achieve your goals. Are you looking to obtain user-generated content or are you looking for data capture? To learn more about the differences between a sweepstakes and contests and which one you should run, check out co-founder Julie Link’s article on the very subject, here.

4. Is your accounting team set up to handle winner paperwork and issue 1099’s at tax time?

Whenever the total ARV of your prize is over $600, you will need to obtain a W9 from your winner and then 1099 them during tax season. Your accounting team will need to gather this information during the year, submit the information to the IRS and answer all consumer calls that come after you send the 1099. Co-founder, Jennifer French, has a lot to say about this topic, here.

Hopefully we have helped make the decision of whether or not to handle a sweepstakes internally or not, a little easier. And if you have decided to hire an agency, please give Sync Marketing a call! 323.596.7962.